What you need to know
There are more than 30,000 deaths from gun violence each year, and more than 20,000 children under 18 have died from firearms in the last decade in the US. The debate on the gun control issue has therefore become fiercer in the American society.
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Compiled by Vic Chiang
On January 5, US President Barack Obama addressed the issue for stricter gun control laws. Along with family members of gun-violence victims, Obama urged American voters to reject pro-gun candidates. The National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s biggest gun rights advocate and lobby group, attacked the announcement, criticizing Obama’s proposals are “ripe for abuse.”
Through times in United States politics, there is constant fear of politicians taking away people’s second amendments to gun ownership. With this in mind, Obama made it clear that his policies are to increase background checks. He says, “[Background check] is not seen as an infringement to the second amendment. Contrary to the claims of what some gun rights proponents suggested, this hasn’t been the first step in some slippery slop to mass confiscation.”
Obama continues to explain his confusion on the inability for the two aisles to come together and lists out actions taken by Republican President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain for more background check. The US president says, “Even the NRA used to support expanded background checks. And by the way, most of its members still do, most Republican voters still do. How did we get to the place where people think requiring a comprehensive background check means taking away people’s guns?”
However, Sputnik International reports, Chris Fox, the executive director of the NRA, warns that Obama’s new executive actions on gun safety threaten US citizens’ right to bear arms. He adds that the NRA “will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be harassed or intimidated" by the Obama White House.
Reuters reports, Republican leaders were quick to denounce Obama’s gun changes, with most Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential race promising to reverse his actions if they win the White House.
Aljazeera reports, from 1966 to 2012, the US had by far the most public mass shooters of any country, with 90 offenders. Only four other countries even reached double-digits; the Philippines had 18, Russia had 15, Yemen had 11 and France had ten.
Even though the US holds less than 5% of the world’s population, about 31% of mass shootings worldwide took place in the country. Political scientist Robert Spitzer says the US “gun culture” dates back to the proliferation of arms in the early days of the nation, and reflects the connection between firearm ownership and the country’s revolutionary and frontier history.
According to statistics from the White House, there were more than four million victims of assaults, robberies and other crimes involving a gun in the last decade; more than 30,000 deaths from gun violence each year, more than 20,000 children under 18 died from firearms in the last decade, more than 20,000 commit suicide with a firearm each year, and 466 law enforcement officers were shot and killed by felons over the last decade in the US.
“People are dying, and the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice. That is why we are here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to prevent the next one,” says Obama. “We know that we can’t stop every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one?”
Edited by Eric Tsai and Olivia Yang